Have you ever been to a party with terrible music?
In a social setting, the musical selection obviously plays a critical role in the ambiance and can either liven or dampen the mood. Experiencing the latter is what inspired an ambitious, teenage R3HAB to get into DJing and music production.
"I remember when I went to a school party as a teenager, I realized how much music had an affect on the mood," R3HAB told EDM.com in an interview. "With that, I noticed how important it is to curate [the music] correctly."
13 years ago—nearly to the date—the Moroccan-Dutch DJ and producer emerged with his first production, "Mrkrstft," which was eventually remixed by dance music icon Hardwell. The record marked the first of many collaborations with fellow Dutch DJs.
R3HAB's next notable release came in 2011 with "Prutataaa," a collaboration with Dutch compatriot Afrojack, who signed him to his Wall Recordings label a month later. Having a connection to the "Dirty Dutch" scene helped him grow, but R3HAB flourished by being one of the most forward-thinking artists in the game at the time, thanks to his unadulterated devotion to the genre.
A New Chapter
"I think in life, when you do something for yourself, you are more motivated and will go that extra [mile]," R3HAB reasoned. "I like doing things for myself, it’s just a different feeling." And so in 2016, he decided to launch his own independent imprint, CYB3RPVNK.
When asked about the process of starting his own label, R3HAB explains that "like anything in life, there have been some ups and downs." "But," he continued, "I think I saw early on that doing things for yourself is very important."
It wasn't until 2017—ten years in to his career—that R3HAB unveiled his debut album. Dubbed Trouble, the highly collaborative 17-track offering was released independently and showcased his versatility as an artist. Delivering big room cuts, underground flavors, and everything in between, Trouble marked a new chapter for R3HAB.
The following year, he released his sophomore album. Resembling a metaphor for the ebbs and flows of life, The Wave takes listeners on an emotive journey. Consisting of 16 tracks, R3HAB's scintillating second album played with polarities and has a record for each mood.
Aside from his celebrated studio albums and originals, R3HAB has released several sensational remixes over the years, such as his take on Pitbull and Ne-Yo's "Give Me Everything" (with Afrojack and Nayer). This particular rework resulted in remix requests from the likes of Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, and Tiësto, among many others.
Since then, R3HAB has emerged as one of the industry's most in-demand remixers. Contemporary music superstars like Taylor Swift, Madonna, Coldplay, Calvin Harris, The Chainsmokers, and many more have commissioned him for official remixes.
R3HAB's most popular release came when he reimagined the Platinum-certified single "All Around The World" by A Touch Of Class. Giving the 2000 hit a club-focused twist proved to be a success, as his remix has amassed upwards of 423 million streams on Spotify alone since it's release on CYB3RPVNK in the fall of 2019.
Recently, R3HAB has reunited with Mr. Worldwide for a remix of "I Feel Good." "I listen to Solomon, ARTBAT, I appreciate anything," R3HAB commented. "So when this came up with Pitbull, I was like, 'Hey this is a song that I can have fun with.'"
"I know many people find Pitbull cheesy," R3HAB added, "but I like him because he brings happiness to people. I remember Pitbull was at a party where I DJ'd—it was a small party—and he was after me. The place was rocking when he came. He played 'Give Me Everything Tonight' and 'I Got No Rent Today' and I was having fun!"
Heaven on Earth
Long before becoming a world renowned, multi-Platinum DJ and producer, R3HAB was going to school and working part-time to help support his family. Growing up with a single mother, he learned the value of hard work and got his very first job at the age of 13.
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This level of discipline served him well. When R3HAB determined his calling in life was to be a DJ, he believed in himself and remained focused on his goals. "I knew that if I worked hard, I would succeed," he wrote in a recent Instagram post. "With a bit of grit and determination, you can truly achieve anything you set your mind to."
Aside from achieving success in the music industry, another one of R3HAB's goals in life was to purchase a Lamborghini SVJ Roadster—his dream car. "I don’t really put too much importance on material things, they are just milestones," he told us. "It’s a nice remembrance that I achieved my [teenage] dream."
"I always detest when people post things like that with the caption 'hard work pays off,'" he laughs. "But, there is a story behind it. And when I was talking to my friend about it he encouraged me [to share]. He said people could become inspired, so I posted it to inspire and not to brag."
R3HAB says that while the car is nice, "it means nothing." Further explaining his main takeaway has been reflecting on where he started and where he is at in his life now: living a life of passion and purpose. "It’s nice to create heaven on earth, but at the end of the day, you can’t take anything with you."
Adapt to the Times
Due to the onset of the global pandemic, R3HAB admits that he took the first two months of lockdown to relax. "It was nice to take a break from travel and not have jet lag," he said.
Before long, "it started to feel like a long vacation," so R3HAB decided to adjust to the current situation. The style of music R3HAB produced had to adapt to the times too. "It was different in the sense that I wasn’t making music for live sets and festivals because I didn’t have those festival moments," he explained. "So, I was making more listening music."
Over the past two years he kept busy, releasing some of his most popular singles to date. In 2020, R3HAB teamed up with triple-threat HRVY for "Be Okay" and later that year joined Norwegian singer-songwriter Alida for "One More Dance," both standout tracks that year.
Celebrated dance-pop crossover "Sad Boy" with Jonas Blue, Ava Max, and Kylie Cantrall came out in September of 2021, which has since seen an acoustic version, club remix, VIP edit, and a rework from All That MTRS and Cat Dealers.
"Most People," a recent collaboration with three-time Grammy nominee Lukas Graham, is another notable production. "‘Most People’ is a record celebrating the rewards of putting in the work," R3HAB explained. "Tomorrow is not promised, so we need to recognize and celebrate the good things we have today.”
Graham also appeared on a recent episode of R3HAB's CYB3RPVNK Radio show, which celebrated its ninth year earlier this year. "You can do nearly 20 days nonstop CVB3RPVNK Radio," he pointed out. "It’s been nice to do something weekly for the fans."
Along for the Ride
R3HAB's first show back was in Japan, just a few months ago. "I love being in Japan!" he exulted. "It felt good [to be back on stage]. I expected to be a bit nervous, but it was good." If anything, he was ready for more, explaining that COVID made him remember to enjoy his freedom.
In October, R3HAB joined his longtime friend and collaborator Afrojack for a stellar B2B set at EDC Las Vegas. "It's nice playing with Afrojack, [because] it all just comes natural," he said. "Then we we got to do it all over again at EDC Orlando and there was no stress for me. I enjoy touring this way."
Later this week, R3HAB will perform at Saudi Arabia's largest music festival, SOUNDSTORM, presented by MDLBEAST. He will be joined by Armin van Buuren, deadmau5, Martin Garrix, and over 150 dance music artists for the fest's momentous second edition. "I am very excited to go back again," he told EDM.com. "I am happy to be along for the ride."
In addition to the festival, MDLBEAST brand recently hosted their first-ever music conference, XP. The programming explored how we can empower future generations of artists, how NFTs and the blockchain are changing the industry, and much more.
MDLBEAST also has a music streaming branch called "Frequencies," and their own imprint, MDLBEAST Records. As it happens, R3HAB launched the label by releasing a tech house track with Fafaq and DNF called "Ringtone." "It was an honor when they asked me," he said. "Especially because I'm Moroccan."
"I am working on finishing my album," he tells us. "That is going to be dropped next year." According to R3HAB, fans can expect to hear breezy dance music in this upcoming record. "Let’s just have some fun."